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Greatest final win ever says boss Cody

By John Campbell

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody has grown accustomed to success but rarely has the long-serving boss experienced such a range of emotions which totally consumed him in the immediate aftermath of yesterday's victory.

Relief, delight and satisfaction merged with sadness as Cody pinpointed what he felt was one of the main reasons why his side had triumphed.

"This without doubt has to be one of our greatest All-Ireland Final victories," asserted Cody.

"We had a lot or reasons for wanting to win out there and one of them was to dedicate a success to James McGarry and his son Darragh."

Only a matter of weeks ago McGarry, who has been a member of the Kilkenny squad for several years, lost his wife Vanessa (31) in a car accident - a tragedy that took a heavy toll on the Kilkenny squad.

Yesterday manager Cody emphasised that the team's determination to win the title for the McGarry family had been instrumental in their drive for glory.

"We got early scores yesterday but then we lost Noel Hickey and Henry Shefflin. That would have knocked out most teams but I think we showed a lot of character although it was backs to the wall stuff in the second half after we had to re-jig the team," said Cody.

Skipper Shefflin, who was joined by James McGarry and Darragh when taking delivery of Liam McCarthy Cup from fellow Kilkenny man and GAA President, Nickey Brennan, also emphasised the team's desire to dedicate their victory to the McGarry family.

"We are delighted that James and Darragh are with us today - that's very special for us," said Shefflin who paid a glowing tribute to manager Cody.

"Ever since I was growing up as a young boy in Ballyhale I have dreamed of this day - leading Kilkenny to an All-Ireland Final success. Now my dream has come true but I hope that Brian Cody will now lead us to a third successive title next year," declared Shefflin.

If the Kilkenny victory celebrations were tempered by the tragic death of Vanessa McGarry, the other desolation in the Limerick dressing room emanated from a feeling of frustration that the team had not done itself justice on the big occasion.

And in a typically frank assessment of his team's performance, manager Richie Bennis admitted that things did not go right for them.

"Things well went well for us the last day against Waterford but it was not the same here against Kilkenny. Those early scores they got were crucial and it meant we were playing catch-up. Obviously we made things difficult for ourselves but I still think we showed a lot of character nonetheless," said Bennis.

And what about the future?

"Well, it's going to be a long, long journey back. It is not easy getting to this level and we know that it is going to be very difficult to make this journey again."

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